My first student success

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Tree pose

After a horrible day, and week, at work I drove to my now regular Wednesday lesson wondering whether to phone and cancel. Teaching your best friend’s son means cancelling is a possibility without putting out a group of expectant individuals.

But despite my lethargy and desire to curl up at home on the sofa with a good book I drove on determined not to disappoint, and knowing that if you cancel once it is easy to do it again.

I was greeted at the door by the usual yapping dog, two noisy pre-teen girls and my young student who was particularly excited and clutching a bottle of wine. I inquired why he had a bottle of wine to discover it was a gift for me!

The melee meant I couldn’t comprehend much of what was being said so I was unsure what prompted this very welcome, but unexpected, gift. As I broke free of the gaggle of children and animals Mum, from the other side of the room, managed to communicate over the excited chatter of three youngsters that my young student had been signed off by the physio he had been seeing.

The physio said his progress was fantastic. He had scored 100 per cent on most of the tasks and 80 per cent on one other. An achievement that hadn’t escaped the notice of my young student who, no sooner was I through the door, was setting up mats eager to begin his class.

My lethargy turned to elation, this young boy who has proprioceptive problems and issues with movement had worked so hard. I was so proud of him, but also delighted to have seen results, and so quickly, from my first student.

We started the class as I always do sitting quietly. He asked for five minutes, something we have done in the past but not without plenty of fidgeting and questions over how long. His youngest sister suggest three minutes. Teachers’ suggestion was that they did three minutes but for that time absolutely no moving and no talking – something I thought was impossible.

But I was rewarded once again. After three minutes oldest sister was slumped looking board, youngest sister (admittedly only six) was stifling the giggles and had moved from her cross legged positon. But my young student was sat still, straight-faced and upright. I let the clock tick to four minutes and he was still in position. Then with sheer steadfast determination he sat motionless for another minute as I let the clock tick to five. A phenomenal achievement for someone who barely managed one minute just five short weeks ago.

We proceeded with the class in the normal manner, some prelims then into a few asanas. Some he had done before other new ones I’d added in for variety. The girls by now had got bored and wondered off into another room – it wasn’t gymnastic enough for them. But my student was still going, trying hard at every new move and showing great progress.

His body awareness has changed already, his perception of where his body is in space has improved tenfold and most of all his ability to control his movements and take things slowly is a far cry from what it was – something that was also noted by the physio.

We ended the class with the thing he’d been asking to practice from last week. A balance, a modification on tree pose. The first week the suggestion of this posture was met with cries of I can’t do that, initially he was unwilling to even try. The next week he improved slightly, then last week he had a determination to hold if for as long as possible managing a count of around 20 on each leg.

This week he impressed again. A count of 40 on one leg and over 100 on the other. He may have stood there all day but the excitement as the count neared 100 put him off and he wobbled into the wall at 102! But a gargantuan achievement for a lad who couldn’t manage to balance for a count of five four weeks ago.

I write this feeling incredibly proud of what this boy has been able to achieve, and pleased that I have played a small part in his achievements – it was only his determination to challenge himself that got him there, I just gave him some things to try.

Will I ever teach properly? I still don’t know, but it is lovely to see students progress…

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